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What do you mean you're not going to bail me out on this challenge?

The Green Bay Packers look like a poorly-coached football team again, but forget about the team-record penalties and the special teams breakdowns for a second.

The Packers may have had a chance to win or tie the Chicago Bears on Monday night if it weren’t for what I would term two terrible coaching decisions by the Packers Mike McCarthy at the end of the game.

The first incident came on James Jones’ fourth-quarter fumble. The ball was clearly knocked out by Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher and recovered in bounds by defensive back Tim Jennings. Inexplicably, McCarthy decided to challenge a clear-cut play that happened right in front of him.

In fact, he didn’t even wait for word from his assistant coaches upstairs before throwing down the challenge flag. After the game, McCarthy had this response.

“I was standing right there and I had a pretty good indication of what happened. I did see the defensive back’s foot swing out of bounds, so I was just hopeful that the officials maybe saw that his foot may have hit. It was 2:18 [left to play], I had two challenges left, and that was obviously a huge play in the game that maybe we could swing our way.”

I’m not exactly sure what McCarthy thought the officials were going to see. If he didn’t see Jennings’ foot hit the ground out of bounds, I’m not sure why he thought the officials would see it on the replay. In addition, it would make sense for McCarthy to wait until he received word from someone upstairs before throwing the challenge flag so impulsively.

When the call was upheld, the Packers lost one of their timeouts. That timeout would prove itself critical after the Bears scored with four seconds left. Had the Packers had the luxury of another timeout inside the two-minute warning, they could have gotten the ball back with around 45 seconds left and had a chance to tie the score on a Mason Crosby field goal.

That brings me to the next situation — the one where the Packers gave the ball back to the Bears with two timeouts and the Bears drove to the Packers’ nine. At the time, the Bears had a 1st and goal with 1:44 on the clock and the Packers had one timeout left.

As you saw, the Packers used their one timeout, let the Bears kick a field goal and received the ensuing kickoff with four seconds on the clock.

The other possibility would have been for the Packers to let the Bears score a touchdown on first down at the nine, keep their remaining timeout, get the ball back and send their offense out with a chance to tie at around 1:30. Of course, the Packers would have had to score a touchdown, but with Aaron Rodgers that isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

In fact, Advanced NFL Stats says that scenario would have given the Packers about a 10 percent chance of winning. Instead, McCarthy chose to hope the Bears would miss a field goal, a scenario that gave the Packers a three percent chance of winning.

“I did not consider letting them score at the end. I felt that if they missed the field goal, we’d win the game. It was talked about, but that was not the decision I went with.”

That’s because you’re brilliant, Mike.

Field goals are successful about 94 percent of the time from the range Chicago ended up kicking from, according to Advanced NFL Stats. Bears kicker Robbie Gould is even better, hitting 39-of-39 between 20 and 29 yards in his career.

So, in the end, McCarthy not only cost the Packers a timeout that could have dramatically altered the game, but also played against the odds coming down the stretch.

And, the Packers got exactly what they deserved because of it — a 20-17 loss.


Monty McMahon

Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.



  1. jeremy September 28, 2010

    I can’t join chitter on the Fire McCarthy wagon. He’s just way to good at developing players. But, I have to say he needs to drop the play book and be a head coach, or get an assistant to preform the role of a head coach during the game. Because during the game, this team has no head coach. It’s an obvious, continuing problem that is going to cost them a shot at a championship. It’s not a part time position.

  2. chitter September 28, 2010

    Well Jeremy that’s a blow to the club because your opinions are valid, but I don’t see this guy leading us to a Super Bowl but I can certainly envision him costing us one.

    This is not just based on one game. He makes poor decisions all the time that seem to go largely unquestioned by the media. They ask him and let it drop. If any of those reporters had any stones there would have been several follow up questions further questioning his thought process….but instead they let him off the hook. Time and time again this guy makes mistakes that shouldn’t be made at the high school level.

    1. jeremy September 28, 2010

      I understand what you are saying and agree with you on many counts, but the reporters aren’t fans. Their job is supposed to be to ask the question and tell us what was said. Now, they throw their two cents in from time to time and I see plenty of reporting right now that is not happy with the reemergence of the Penal Packers.

      Unfortunately I doubt the needed change will happen because McCarthy can’t step outside of his own shoes and see what everyone else already knows about him. He’s not paying attention to the big picture during the game. He honestly believes he is and it’s a damn shame because it’s the one thing that’s going to prevent the Packers from owning the NFC for the foreseeable future.

    2. Abe Frohman September 29, 2010

      Chitter – I’m sorry to say I agree with Jeremy on this one. McCarthy is a great X’s and O’s coach. He and his play calling is one of the primary reasons the Packers offense is so good. He’s also been great at developing players as Jeremy points out.

      What he needs to do is either give up play calling duties or promote someone from the staff to be the one responsible for more strategic, game management decisions – like what to challenge, when to call a timeout, etc. He’s obviously buried in the detail of the play calling and can’t see the bigger picture.

      1. jeremy September 29, 2010

        Your sorry…

        Am I that disagreeable? ; )

        1. Abe Frohman September 29, 2010

          nah…but other than with Jeff and Matt, I don’t like to really cause a fuss.

  3. Vijay September 28, 2010

    When you talk about McCarthy receiving word from on a replay call from upstairs…are you referring to a call from Jesus?

    1. Kyle September 29, 2010

      Nah, Jesus only talks to Notre Dame, George W. Bush and Tony Dungy.

    2. jeremy September 29, 2010

      I don’t think the packers have heard from God since Reggie left.

    3. Abe Frohman September 29, 2010

      whenever I see players thanking Jeebus after a TD or so, I wonder if the players on the other team are thinking “Jeebus must hate us”

      (the Jeebus reference is from The Simpsons.)

  4. MAD City Packer Fan September 28, 2010

    Hmmmm interesting conversation. I agree with both of you. He does need to achieve a lot more focus during the game. Who would be a good choice if McCarthy left? What can he does to improve as a coach in your eyes?

  5. chitter September 29, 2010

    I have always been and forever will be rooting for Bill Cowher to come to Green Bay. The problem is I feel like Ted Thompson would rather die with a poor choice than actually admit he made a mistake. Yeah I said it….He made a poor choice.

    There are lots of guys that are good with X’s and O’s but that in and of itself does not constitute head coaching.

    And as far as player development goes, who has McCarthy developed from an average player into a really good one? I’m not saying that he hasn’t, but what specific examples are you considering when you say McCarthy is great at developing talent?

    I see it as Ted Thompson bringing in great players and McNutty coaching below par. Period. It’s been that way for years.

    1. Abe Frohman September 29, 2010

      look no further than Rodgers himself. There’s a reason he fell so far in the draft. People were concerned about his athleticism. Jaworski ripped him. Smith was chosen above him.

      Other examples are Jermichael Finley (3rd rounder) Josh Sitton (4th rounder, I think), Nick Collins (2nd rounder from a small school), James Jones (3rd rounder), on defense how about Tramon Williams UDFA, Atari Bigby another UDFA, Shields has promise, There’s a bunch. It’s generally considered a team effort. TT drafts ’em and MM coaches ’em up to where they need to be. TT looks good because of MM and vice versa. Many publications, teams, etc have suggested that the Packers are one of the deepest teams in the NFL. That can’t ALL be on TT.

  6. chitter September 29, 2010

    I put together a string of articles questioning McNutty here:


    What pisses me off about him is his arrogance. “I’m not going to look back on that.” Yeah well you’re a fucking idiot. Looking back on past decisions is how one learns, but he’s too fucking smug and arrogant to think he could make a mistake or god-forbid learn something.

    1. Abe Frohman September 29, 2010

      I don’t think it’s necessarily all that you think. The NFL is really a week to week business. After the loss, you have very little time to review it because you’re so busy preparing for the upcoming opponent.

      Sure there’s film study, but those are X’s and O’s as opposed to the game management type things (my guess, anyway). Any substantive change in any procedure is going to take place in the off season. They work 100+ hours a week in season. They don’t have time to figure out something new and test it out with live bullets flying.

  7. iltarion September 29, 2010

    Just some points here.

    1) Nearly every coach in the NFL, with an available challenge, would have challenged that fumble. It was a HUGE game-turning play. The ball and defender both came within inches of going out of bounds. You send it to the booth to make sure nothing was missed. That was a no brainer challenge.
    The only reason the foregone TO ended up valuable was because Lovie Smith and Cutler were STUPID enough to throw the ball up when they only needed another safe pass to the TE to get in FG range. They were fortunately bailed out by ANOTHER penalty.
    I understand people’s concern though based off McCarthy’s poor track record with challenges. I would suggest he give the red flag to an assistant.

    2) Absolutely agree that we should have let the Bears score. It was beyond idiocy that after throwing up their moronic deep ball that had INT written all over it, Lovie Smith then decides to run the football instead of just taking a knee and running the clock down. Fortunately for Lovie, a coach of equal idiocy was on the other sideline. Counting on a team missing a FG within the 10 yard line is about the equivalent of me hoping to get raped by a pack of hot, sex-starved nuns on the way to work. It isn’t likely to EFFIN happen. The chances of A-Rodge leading us to a TD with 1:40 on the clock is exponentially more likely.
    This is consistent, however, with MM’s clock management philosophy. He still tends to prefer to have his defense on the field, hoping they will “make a play” rather than put his offense out there, either fearing they will make a mistake, or perhaps knowing that any mistakes by his defense are more easily blamed on another coach.

    Regardless, despite these criticisms of MM, I find the opinion that MM is a poor coach or can’t lead the Pack to a SB to be illogical. I seem to remember this team being one play from the SB in only MM’s 2nd year. If you are a good enough coach to be in the NFC Championship Game, then why wouldn’t you be a good enough coach to be in the SB?

    No, this team will go 11-5 or 12-4 and win this division. MM isn’t going anywhere.

    1. Abe Frohman September 29, 2010

      what defies reason to me is that Jones’ fumble that close to the sidelines 9 times out of 10 goes out of bounds. It’s nothing short of a minor miracle that it didn’t.

      I think the “Pittsburgh Tough Guy” that McCarthy is simply has an egotistical/philosophical problem conceding a touchdown.